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Workshop: Spinoza and Relational Autonomy

Spinoza’s philosophy has been both celebrated and reviled for its strict commitment to a kind of naturalism, according to which all aspects of human beings are to be understood in fundamentally the same way that we understand any other natural phenomena. Spinoza takes this to imply, most controversially, that our volitions are determined by prior causes, which leads him to deny that humans possess free will in the sense of a spontaneous power for determining one’s own actions in isolation from external things.

Although one might take this to imply that Spinoza rules out the possibility of freedom and autonomy, Spinozainsists on the possibility and importance of freedom, a form of self-determination, which philosophers today would describe as autonomy. This workshop aims to bring together scholars interested in the nature of Spinoza’srelational conception of autonomy and its relevance to present day theorizing about relational autonomy.


  • 10.00: Keith Green (East Tennessee): The Autonomy of Shattered Spirits
  • 10.30: Discussant: Aurelia Armstrong (University of Queensland)
  • 11.00: General discussion

11.30: break

  • 11.45: Matt Kisner (South Carolina): Spinoza's Surprising Aristotelianism about Potentia
  • 12.15: Discussant: Andrea Sangiacomo (University of Groningen – University of Tilburg)
  • 12.45: General discussion

13.15: lunch

  • 15.00: Beth Lord (Aberdeen): Spinoza’s ratios and relational autonomy
  • 15.30: Discussant: Ericka Tucker (Cal Poly Pomona - Arizona)
  • 16.30: General discussion
  • 17.00: Conclusion
Last modified:06 June 2019 12.44 p.m.